3D printing on the frontline

It seems a technology becomes legit when the US army starts to invest in it. Well, 3D printing, your time has come to shine to “enable soldiers to quickly and cheaply produce spare parts for their weapons and equipment”. Just like there used to be soldiers dedicated to carrying communication equipment, we will soon have poor souls carrying 3D printers.

“Parts for [sensitive equipment like GPS or drones] break frequently, and many of them are produced overseas, so there’s a long lead time for replacement parts. […] Instead of needing a massive manufacturing logistics chain, a device that generates replacement parts is now small and light enough to be easily carried in a backpack or on a truck.” […]

The 3D printers are now being rolled out to the frontline in shipping containers that act as mobile production labs. The first of the $2.8m labs, which contains 3D printers and CNC machines to make parts from aluminium, plastic and steel, was sent to Afghanistan in July this year. While there are no plans to print weapons from scratch, the labs could produce spare parts to repair them, according to Pete Newell, head of the US army’s Rapid Equipping Force.


The day weapons can be printed is coming sooner rather than later (a 3D printed gun was already successfully fired), and then we will be hit again by an old truth: “technology is a double edged sword”.


How data helped Obama’s re-election

Data was the edge Obama’s team had on Romney. It was so strategic they would only talk about it “on the condition that the information not be published until after the winner was declared”.

Using a centralized database fed from hundreds of sources, Obama’s data scientist were able to gather an unprecedented knowledge on what was really happening on the field, understand what makes people pledge money, resubscribe to a newsletter, or send an invitation to vote via Facebook. Some of the initiatives described are quite impressive, a mix of science and ingenuity that every politician must be dreaming of (while very few will be able to actually make it happen).

Data is profoundly changing the way everything works, because it can be obtained in realtime, and allows daily refocus into better directions. Measure, understand, act. That’s the formula the best organizations will apply in the future.

A large portion of the cash raised online came through an intricate, metric-driven e-mail campaign in which dozens of fundraising appeals went out each day. Here again, data collection and analysis were paramount. Many of the e-mails sent to supporters were just tests, with different subject lines, senders and messages. Inside the campaign, there were office pools on which combination would raise the most money, and often the pools got it wrong. Michelle Obama’s e-mails performed best in the spring, and at times, campaign boss Messina performed better than Vice President Joe Biden. In many cases, the top performers raised 10 times as much money for the campaign as the underperformers.

Chicago discovered that people who signed up for the campaign’s Quick Donate program, which allowed repeat giving online or via text message without having to re-enter credit-card information, gave about four times as much as other donors. So the program was expanded and incentivized. By the end of October, Quick Donate had become a big part of the campaign’s messaging to supporters, and first-time donors were offered a free bumper sticker to sign up. […]

“We ran the election 66,000 times every night,” said a senior official, describing the computer simulations the campaign ran to figure out Obama’s odds of winning each swing state. “And every morning we got the spit-out — here are your chances of winning these states. And that is how we allocated resources.”


If only plastic surgery could come with updated genes

Man divorces his wife for getting him to marry her under false pretenses. She had $100k of plastic surgery, never told her husband, but he found out when she gave birth to an ‘incredibly ugly’ baby.

Mr Feng said he took issue with his wife’s looks only after the couple’s daughter was born. He was shocked by the child’s appearance, calling her ‘incredibly ugly’ and saying she looked like neither one of her parents.

Mr Feng was so outraged that he initially accused his wife of cheating. Faced with the accusation, his wife admitted to spending around £62,000 on plastic surgery which had altered her appearance drastically.

She had the work done before she met her husband and never told him about it after they met. Mr Feng filed for divorce saying his wife had deceived him and convinced him to marry her under false pretenses.

The judge agreed with him and awarded him the damages.


I will refrain from commenting on the sad human side of the story (poor kid really), but this makes me wonder if there could be such a thing as DNA surgery? Could science come up with a way to adapt your genes to your new face after you had a procedure? I know selection is possible, but could ovums be manipulated to reflect the mother’s new face?

Sounds like a completely crazy idea, pushing a lot of ethical boundaries. But apparently we live in a world where such a need exists, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if it happens…

Half Jeans, half anticellulite treatment

How do you separate your line of denims from the rest of the pack in the 21st century? By combining them with beauty products. Meet the anticellulite jeans, probably one of marketing’s most impressive achievement in a while. These will sell like hotcakes.

In the spring of 2013, Wrangler is launching a line called “Denim Spa Therapy for Legs.”  The spa component consists of anticellulite and moisturizing elements infused into denim […].  With the added components of vitamin E, amino acids, and antioxidants,claims their denim reduces cellulite and stretch marks while increasing collagen production.  Gsus says its aloe vera component protects the skin from environmental pollutants, thus preventing premature aging.


How will your wallet talk to you?

I love this project, the MIT Media Lab’s proverbial wallet. It is a wallet that gets harder and harder to open as your available money goes down. A great example of empathic computing, seamlessly embedding into people’s life and communicating with very simple means.